Indian club Goa has said its foreign players and coach will cut short their AFC Champions League participation and return home as India suffers a massive spike in COVID-19 cases.
Captain Ido Bedia, defender Evan Gonzalez, midfielder Jorge Ortiz, coach Juan Fernando and coaching staff member Xabi Gonzalez, all Spaniards – as well as Australian James Donachie – were among those leaving India due to fears that any further delay would cause them to be locked up inside the country.
“The Goa Football Club would like to inform that it has advised foreigners in the club, which includes the coach, players and staff, to return home immediately,” the club said in a statement.
“This comes as a precautionary measure in light of the recent policies taken by Europe and other countries with regard to people coming from India, as the country is fighting the second wave of Covid-19 that has swept the country,” he said.
“While the AFC Champions League is still an important competition for Goa, the club management felt that the safety of the players was their first and foremost responsibility,” he added.
The daily incidence of Covid-19 in India continued to rise on Friday, and the total toll exceeded 18 million cases after another daily world record number of injuries.
India recorded about 380,000 new cases of Covid-19 and about 3 thousand and 600 deaths on Thursday, which is the highest number of deaths in a single day in India since the start of the pandemic.
“Everything you see on TV is real,” Fernando told the Spanish daily Marca. “There is a shortage of oxygen and people are burning in the streets. You feel disgusted by seeing such things.” Advertising
Speaking from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris – where he is waiting for his flight to Barcelona – the Spanish coach told the newspaper that he and his citizens were given little time to pack their bags and leave the country as the crisis worsened, adding, “It is a very difficult situation.”
Goa is participating in the AFC Champions League for the first time in its history, and he failed to surpass the group stage after winning 3 points from 6 games.
“It all happened very quickly,” Fernando said. “Yesterday (Wednesday) we had a press conference at the hotel before a Champions League match, and the next thing my assistant told me is that we have 10 minutes to get our belongings and hop in the taxi..I left by air for New Delhi in a hurry. My command, and I went from thinking about the match to being on a plane.